An important role for female entrepreneurs in economic recovery

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Greater support for female entrepreneurs is being called for

A new report has been published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills that examines the important impact that improved support for female entrepreneurs could have on the nation's economic recovery.

Carried out by the government's women in enterprise champion Lorely Burt MP, the report is entitled 'Inclusive Support for Women in Enterprise' and revealed that while the number of small to medium-sized businesses being founded and run by females has grown in recent years, there is still considerable scope for an increase in support for this group in the UK.

"We need to encourage government and business to think inclusively at all times. We must also break unnecessary barriers between entrepreneurs and the support they need to succeed," Ms Burt stated.

Indeed, her report revealed there have been several major attempts to promote greater gender equality within business circles in the UK, with considerable progress having been made to date in terms of bringing more women into boardrooms, as well as giving female entrepreneurs the support needed to start their own companies.

She cited the £1 million Women and Broadband Challenge Fund as an example of these efforts, as well as the introduction  of new Start Up Loans, the Enterprise Allowance and the creation of more local growth hubs, but she stressed there still remains more to be done if the full potential of female business start-ups is to be achieved in the years ahead.

Ms Burt argued there are a number of barriers that now need to be overcome if the entrepreneurial spirit of women up and down the country is to be properly harnessed.

She claimed an evidence-based approach to gathering data on gender diversity among business leaders in the UK is now required, with a focus on government procurement processes, the VAT Register and the integral knowledge of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).

Furthermore, government must now plan an inclusive approach to business support at a more local level, requiring LEPs to appoint directors from diverse backgrounds and at all levels of decision-making.

The Great Business website was also pinpointed as being a standout tool in helping to support more female entrepreneurs in the years ahead, as it offers a range of non-government sources of assistance including mentoring, networking and alternative finance.

Overall, Ms Burt concluded that by delivering on these key recommendations, the government could help to create the necessary framework that will see more women in the upper echelons of business in the years ahead, as well as in the creation of a fairer and more equal society for future generations.

Responding to the report's findings, business secretary Vince Cable commented: "The government is committed to ensuring that talented women have the tools at hand, whether it's running a business on their own or heading up a corporate board.

"The evidence is clear - gender diversity delivers better business decisions, which are vital to securing the future prosperity of the UK."